Protopantry Panzanella (Panmolle)

Carb-lovers rejoice: panzanella (also called panmolle) is Italian salad made of bread, with origins in 16th-century Tuscany. While it’s traditionally prepared with garden-fresh tomatoes, I attempted to replicate the zippy Italian flavors with pantry staples, and I’m pretty sure I succeeded. Don’t let the instructions overwhelm you—all you’re doing is draining the tomatoes, drying out the bread, whisking a dressing together, and tossing everything into a big bowl—capisce? Serve a small portion as an appetizer, or a larger portion as a light lunch or dinner.

This recipe is adapted from

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Protopantry Panzanella (Panmolle) Recipe

This tangy, fresh Italian bread salad gives you a taste of Tuscany in under an hour.

Makes: 6 servings

Protopantry Panzanella (Panmolle)

Prep time:

Cook time:

  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (or 2 14.5-ounce cans)
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus salt for seasoning to taste
  • 3/4 pound bread (crusty or hearty is essential), cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes (roughly 6 cups bread cubes)
  • 10 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 small red onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • Pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup spinach, roughly chopped
  • Freshly grated Parmesan to taste (we used about 4 tablespoons)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and adjust the rack to the center position.
  2. Pour the tomatoes into a sieve set over a bowl, and add one teaspoon of salt. Mix the salt and tomatoes together, and apply very light pressure to the tomatoes to encourage them to drain.
  3. Set the tomatoes aside at room temperature to release excess liquid, stirring occasionally, while the bread toasts as described in the following steps.
  4. In a large bowl, toss the bread cubes with two tablespoons of olive oil. Spread the coated bread cubes in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet or glass baking dish.
  5. Bake the bread until dry and crisp but not substantially toasted or browned (about 15 minutes). Take the bread out of the oven and allow it to cool.
  6. Remove the sieve with the tomatoes from the bowl with tomato liquid, and set the tomatoes aside. Discard all but 1/3 cup of the tomato liquid, which you need to reserve for the dressing.
  7. Add the onion, garlic, mustard, vinegar, and maple syrup to the reserved tomato liquid. While whisking vigorously and continuously, add the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil to the tomato liquid mixture. Add the Italian seasoning, and season the mixture to taste with salt and pepper to complete the dressing.
  8. Combine the crisped bread, tomatoes, and dressing in a large salad bowl. Add the spinach. Toss all of the ingredients gently but thoroughly to coat the bread and tomatoes fully with dressing. While you can absolutely serve the salad immediately, leave the salad to rest for 30 minutes before serving with freshly grated Parmesan for the best flavor and texture.

Notes and Nutrition Information

  • Panzanella is unequivocally best served same-day. However, don’t panic if you have leftover panzanella! Store it covered in the refrigerator up to two days. Heat the panzanella on the stove in the morning and top with a fried egg and some red pepper flakes for a killer skillet breakfast.

  • One sixth of the recipe as written contains approximately 405 calories, 27 grams of fat, 37 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, 7 grams of sugar, and 840 milligrams of sodium.